Learning to Play Chords on a Guitar
By Bruce Lamb
One of the first chords a new guitar player will have difficulty with is the Fm7 or F major 7th. To play this chord your fingers will get a work out but it is a chord you must learn so I would not put it off. Start off with this chord because it will help your guitar playing and you will learn and progress much faster if your hands are in playing shape.
There is definitely some stretching going on when you play this cord. This is an important lesson particularly for beginners because you will soon see that the stretching that your fingers will go through will help you with all of the other difficult chords you will learn.
I should first start off by explaining how the strings are numbered. As you hold your guitar the smallest string is the first string. Then each string is numbered 2nd, third, fourth, the fifth and then the sixth string is the top string or the thickest and bass string.
The Fm7th chord starts off with your third finger on the fourth string just above the third fret. If you don’t know what frets are, they are the little metal bars that go across the neck of your guitar. Now place your second finger on the third string just above the second fret. Now place your first finger on the second string over the first fret.
When you strum the strings start with the fourth string and strum all the way through the first string. You want the first string to ring out and when many people start to play this chord there fingers are laying over the first string which dampens or mutes the first string so it won’t ring out. This is common but with a few days of practice your sound will be much fuller and you can play the chords with more fluidity.
Now work on this chord and start having a little fun with it. Begin moving all your fingers up the neck one fret at a time. Now when I say up the neck it means that your are moving your fingers towards the sound hole of the guitar. It is called up because the notes that you are playing are higher in pitch. When I say down the neck you move your finger towards the tuning keys. If you’re a real beginner they are the little knobs that the strings are attached to at the head stock. The head stock is the where they are found. The little white bar across the top of the neck and above the frets with the notches in is called the nut.
Now start moving and strumming the guitar one fret at a time. You will begin to notice that it starts to get easier to play the chord because the frets are getting closer together.
Now as you start to get past the eighth fret you may start having problems holding the chord positions because the frets are getting to close to each other. Don’t worry with some practice it will get much easier as your fingers get used to the stretching that is going on. Yep it is a work out trying this chord but it is a must chord to know how to play correctly.
Keep practicing this chord up and down the neck. You will begin to see that as you move from one chord to the next your fingers will have to stretch wider as you go down the neck and closer as you go up the neck. Try not to get hung up or be discouraged if it doesn’t sound that good for now. This is a stretching exercise and as your fingers learn and get stretched your sound will improve.
Now when pressing down on the strings you really don’t have to push that hard. Most beginners start pushing much too hard. All you really need to do is have the string your pushing on have solid contact with the fret. You don’t need to have your finger placed directly over the fret but just before it.
You will also start to notice that the tips of your finger will begin to get a little sore at first. After a week or so you will begin to develop calluses on your finger tips. This will become a source of conversation and pride with new guitarist. Don’t worry if your fingers are too sore to practice just wait a day or two and start to practice again. It may take several weeks before you can put in more than a few minutes of practice at a time. The important thing is not to give up. Learning to play guitar will bring you a life time of free pleasure.
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